Ugandan envoy offers help amid rising suicide cases in UAE
Dr Sam Omara said 31 Ugandans committed suicide in 9 months
Abu Dhabi - The move followed the shocking figures showing that 45 Ugandans working in the UAE have died in the past nine months.
Talk to friends and relatives if you are facing difficulties at work or other social and financial problems; but don't end your lives, the Ugandan Counselor in Abu Dhabi told Ugandan workers in the UAE. He also asked them to seek help from the embassy or police, if needed.
The move followed the shocking figures showing that 45 Ugandans working in the UAE have died in the past nine months. The Ugandan embassy in Abu Dhabi indicates that out of the 45 registered deaths, 31 were reported to be suicides. The other deaths have been attributed to accidents, cardiac arrest, murder, drowning, and other diseases like meningitis, HIV and liver failure. Their figures also showed that three other suicide deaths were registered in Oman.
According to the figures, 27 of the deaths occurred in Dubai, 14 in Abu Dhabi, two in Sharjah, one in Ras Al Khaimah and one in Ajman. Among those who committed suicide were 13 security guards, 12 housemaids, three drivers, two cleaners and one mechanic.
In a recent incident in August, a Ugandan national committed suicide inside the Noor Bank Metro station in Dubai. His relative said he was facing financial difficulties and had tried to commit suicide earlier. An eyewitness said that when the man was on the escalator of the metro station, he heard a loud thud. "After 10 seconds, I saw an African on the ground, covered in blood," the eyewitness told Khaleej Times.
Dr Sam Omara, counselor at the Ugandan Embassy in Abu Dhabi said many of the suicide cases result from frustrations that lead to depression. "I believe most of these people decide to end their lives because of frustrations," Dr Omara told Khaleej Times. "Some of these people are told by recruitment companies that they are coming here to good jobs and with big salaries, and when they get here, they get frustrated when they find things are different.
"Some people find the working conditions, weather and culture different; some domestic workers, especially housemaids, are being mistreated by employers and this can lead them into making bad decisions, especially when they don't have anyone to speak to about their problems.
"I urge all Ugandans to come forward to the embassy or call us if you have any problems at work or other issues, so we can help," said Dr Omara. "If you have a social, financial or work-related problems, it's good that you share it with a friend or speak to a relative. Don't just keep it to yourself as it may lead to depression."
The have been reports that some recruitment companies in Uganda were promising workers good jobs with good pay, and when they reached the UAE, the workers are shocked to be given different jobs with small salaries.
Dr Omara urged recruitment companies to be honest to workers before bringing them over to work in the UAE, about the type of work they are going to do, salaries, working conditions, the weather, cultures and traditions.
"Recruitment agents should also ensure that they teach the workers about the UAE laws," he said.
More than 40,000 Ugandans currently live and work in the UAE. Most of them work in security companies and sales, especially in branded shops and supermarkets, and the hospitality industry.
Action needed to prevent suicide as a way out
The latest Ugandan suicide victim, a security guard, took his life out of the fear that he was about to lose his job, his relative said. He had been in the UAE for a year and was supporting his family. One week before the incident, his supervisor had seen his friend lending him Dh200 and the victim was scared that it would be seen in a negative light. His relative had tried to pacify his worries and also sought help from two security officials at the metro station. He was later shocked to see the victim lying in a pool of blood and blamed himself for failing to prevent the victim from doing this awful act. "I suggest that they create a hotline contact number and a crisis centre that can help people who go through difficult situations and to help them with any expenses. They need help to battle the depression and fear they experience. Family members should also provide support," said the victim's relative. He said that companies and diplomatic missions should spread awareness among workers, as there are a lots of suicides happening in the country.
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Mission for workers
Missions of several countries in the UAE are getting more involved in the welfare of their citizens, which is a sign that labour conditions are improving here. It is also a sign of the maturing of the labour market. Conditions of workers are being highlighted and action is being taken with the help of the UAE government. The system is transparent and no worker will be taken for a ride. The UAE deserves credit for putting in place a system of checks and balances.